Rep. Shevrin Jones (D) has filed a bill in the Florida Assembly seeking to decriminalize the possession of up to 20grams of marijuana. This bill comes at a time when campaigners who wish to have marijuana legalized through a ballot measure have collected and submitted the number of voter signatures required before the Supreme Court of the state can review the language of their petition.
In a press release, Jones said that he was pleased to file this bill as a way to fix the broken criminal justice system of the state. The existing marijuana laws have disproportionately affected people of color who end up losing their student financial aid, access to housing loans, denial of job opportunities and so many other collateral effects of having a marijuana possession conviction on one’s criminal record. Jones adds that he is proud to introduce this law which will put an end to more Floridians being adversely affected by these laws which are implemented in a selective manner.
The bill also makes the possession of less than 600miligrams of THC a non-criminal offense that is punishable by a fine rather than jail time.
Marijuana law reform advocacy groups, such as NORML, have welcomed this new bill saying that Florida has a reputation of having some of the most draconian marijuana laws in the country, so any measure that pegs back those punitive policies will provide much needed relief. NORML pledged to support the legislator in any way they can to ensure that the draft legislation passes in both legislative chambers of the state.
Meanwhile, it isn’t yet clear whether marijuana will be legalized in Florida since attempts to do so legislatively failed and the push to refer the matter to voters is still in its infancy.
However, some jurisdictions within the state have taken matters into their own hands and they are initiating local laws decriminalizing low-level marijuana possession. Cocoa Beach for example approved a measure in May to decriminalize the possession of less than 20grams of cannabis. Tallahassee is also likely to do the same if the efforts of one local lawmaker spearheading a decriminalization drive achieve the desired outcome.
As all this is going on, the state police has admitted that the legalization of industrial hemp has made it harder to prosecute marijuana possession cases. Police officers have therefore been advised to be extra vigilant so that they don’t prosecute people for marijuana-related crimes when those people had hemp, a plant that looks like marijuana but doesn’t cause any psychoactive effects.
Industry analysts believe that cannabis industry players like Grapefruit Boulevard Investments Inc. (OTCQB: IGNG) and Green Growth Brands Inc. (CSE: GGB) (OTCQB: GGBXF) could be wondering when the federal government will reform its marijuana policies so that the fragmented reforms being seen in different states can come to an end.
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